ACCBRacket Watch 3/1/19

Welcome back to the second edition of Bracket Watch here at the ACC Basketball Report. We work tirelessly to provide you the best content anywhere for all things ACC. With the weekend ahead and nothing but the greatest month in college hoops (if not the year) to look forward to, there’s no better time to catch up on Kinchen’s Korner 3’s, our weekly Power Rankings, and the ACCBR Podcast Mychal puts out for you guys every week. You’ll be hard pressed to find another trio who knows the players, coaches, and history of this great league better than we do.

Back to the task at hand. When we ran through our first Bracket Watch a few weeks ago, everyone still had more than a month to finish compiling their closing arguments for Selection Sunday. That month is now barely two weeks, and I can’t wait to see where it all lands. Let’s start where we did last time around with how the NET sees the state of the ACC.

 

1-30: Always Quadrant 1

#2 Virginia (3 last time)

#3 Duke (2)

#8 North Carolina (9)

#11 Virginia Tech (13)

#24 Florida State (25)

#25 Louisville (16)

 

31-75: Q1 on the Road, Q2 at Home

#31 NC State (31)

#41 Clemson (42)

#44 Syracuse (50)

 

76-135: Q2 on the Road, Q3 at Home

#87 Miami (83)

#102 Notre Dame (94)

#113 Boston College (131)

#118 Pittsburgh (102)

#132 Georgia Tech (118)

 

161-240: Q3 on the Road, Q4 at Home

#191 Wake Forest (197)

 

The gap between the top nine and the latter six has grown even wider and will likely continue to do so as Syracuse, State, and Clemson push to finish the season on the right foot and show the selection committee they deserve a spot in the field of 68. How does that translate to where the best minds in bracketology see the ACC as of MARCH. the first? Let’s call on a few old friends before we dive back into each team’s situation.

Avg (Previous) Haslam KPI Bracket Matrix Palm (CBS)
Virginia 1 (1) 1 1 1 1
Duke 1 (1) 1 1 1 1
UNC 2 (2.4) 2 2 2 2
FSU 4.8 (5.5) 5 6 4 4
VT 5.5 (6.3) 6 6 5 5
Louisville 7.5 (5.4) 7 8 7 8
Syracuse 9 (9.5) 9 9 9 9
NC State 11.3* (10.7*) 12 OUT 10 12
Clemson 12* (12*) 12 OUT FIRST 4 OUT 12

 

#2 Virginia (current projected seed: 1)

Current resume:  25-2 (13-2, T-1st in ACC)

vs Q1:  9-2 (2 remaining: @Syracuse, Louisville)

vs Q2:  5-0

vs Q3:  4-0 (1 remaining: Pittsburgh)

vs Q4:  7-0

 

Update on your new favorite teams

#24 Florida State has done all the Hoos could have asked resume-wise, which is unfortunately more than can currently be said for #87 Miami, whose loss to Wake Forest dropped them four slots further from the top 75 (and a shot at climbing into Q2).

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Much like Duke, the Hoos have been one of the best teams in the nation all season long and will have little to worry about as far as the tournament is concerned until they learn which 15- or 16-seed they’ll want to start scouting.

Moving on.

#3 Duke (current projected seed: 1)

Current resume:  24-4 (12-3, 3rd in ACC)

vs Q1:  8-3 (1 remaining: @UNC)

vs Q2:  7-1

vs Q3:  4-0 (1 remaining: Miami)

vs Q4:  5-0 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

Update on your new favorite team

#70 Yale: Bryce Aiken’s buzzer beater gave Harvard the win over their rivals at Yale and kept them in the Ivy League title hunt, but it wasn’t enough to knock the Bulldogs out of Q2 territory for now. Yale won’t be expected to stumble this weekend, but ends their regular season with back to back road games at Penn and Princeton.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Mike Krzyzewski’s Fab Four freshman certainly still have plenty of work left to do in a competitive ACC, but have long since locked up a top seed in this year’s field. If they “fall” on Selection Sunday, it won’t be past the 2 line.

Turns out four is, in fact, better than three. The Blue Devils dropped their second game in three contests since Zion Williamson’s injury, and no longer control their destiny in pursuit of their first ACC regular season banner since 2010. As far as their seed for the NCAA tournament is concerned however, the Blue Devils still have little reason for worry. Some fear the cracks are beginning to show, though most remain confident the return of Williamson will quiet any lingering doubt heading into the tournament. Is another second weekend exit on the horizon, or will Duke return to its dominant form?

#8 North Carolina (current projected seed: 2)

Current resume:  23-5 (13-2, T-1st in ACC)

vs Q1:  7-5 (2 remaining: @Clemson, Duke)

vs Q2:  6-0 (1 remaining: @Boston College)

vs Q3:  6-0

vs Q4:  4-0

Update on your new favorite team

#75 Davidson has had a tough run, dropping two of their last three to Dayton and La Salle. They now stand two games behind VCU in the A-10 standings with three games left on their schedule, and (for UNC) exactly on the cut-line for Q2.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) The Tar Heels won’t have to worry about making the field of 68, but took a few more lumps in the non-conference than their compatriots atop the ACC. They could still slide further down the bracket than either Duke or Virginia would with an unsteady finish though a single win against Duke would make that nearly impossible. They’re also talented enough to get hot, snag an ACC banner or two and sneak on to the 1 line. The sooner Nassir Little, Leaky Black, and Sterling Manley are able to return to full health, the deeper and more versatile this team can be down the stretch.

Little’s back, seems to be rounding back into form at the perfect time, and with one win against the Blue Devils already under their belt, the Heels are locked into the two-line, barring a major skid. And well within reach of stealing a spot on the top line before Selection Sunday too. Tar Heels everywhere still continue to hope for good news on the health of Black and Manley.

#24 Florida State (current projected seed: 4.8)

Current resume:  22-6 (10-5, 5th in ACC)

vs Q1:  6-4 (1 remaining: Virginia Tech)

vs Q2:  4-2 (1 remaining: NC State)

vs Q3:  5-0 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

vs Q4:  7-0

Update on your new favorite* teams

We won’t tell anyone you’re quietly hoping they can hang on down the stretch, but #29 Florida’s five-game win streak has propelled them from #40 two weeks ago into a Q1 win for the Noles. The Gators still have LSU (who they beat a week ago in OT) and Kentucky left on their schedule though, so the road ahead doesn’t get any easier. Meanwhile, #31 NC State is still right within reach of padding FSU’s resume even further if they can finish well.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) With a more manageable final seven games than many of the rest in the upper half of the ACC standings, the stage is set for the ‘Noles to complete their remarkable turnaround and secure not just a double bye for the ACC tourney, but also a well deserved 4ish seed for the NCAA stage.

Their win streak finally came to an end at eight, but despite a lackluster performance against the Irish, the Seminoles were able to hold them off to nip the losing streak at one and secure their 10th ACC win of the year. After a 1-4 start, that a 13-5 mark and double-bye is within reach is remarkable. In the 4-6 seed range, matchups are critical in the first weekend, and only more so this year with a particularly dangerous crowd of mid-majors lurking, but the Seminoles have the talent, depth, and size to compete with just about anyone on a neutral floor.

#11 Virginia Tech (current projected seed: 5.5)

Current resume:  22-6 (11-5, 4th in ACC)

vs Q1:  4-6 (1 remaining: @Florida St)

vs Q2:  6-0

vs Q3:  4-0 (1 remaining: Miami)

vs Q4:  8-0

Update on your new favorite teams

#50 Penn State (who you may remember from last time as #70 Penn State) has won three straight and five of their last seven after opening Big 10 play 0-10 (ouch). Wins against ranked foes Michigan and Maryland by a combined 24 points mean Hokie fans no longer need sweat that November loss dropping to Q2. More concerning now is #25 Louisville trending the wrong direction at an alarming rate.

#120 Ball State (formerly #102) has likely fallen out of reach, but #91 Northeastern is still doing its part to hang onto its spot in the top 100 and bolster the Hokies Q2 resume. (Because of course the quadrant lines are completely different for neutral site games too.) The Huskies are one game behind first-place Hofstra heading into the final weekend of the Colonial regular season.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Unless the Hokies completely crash and burn, which I certainly don’t expect them to, they won’t have any bubble worries. They’ve received tough 8-9 draws the last two years with Wisconsin (who knocked off 1-seed Villanova two days later) and Alabama (against a lottery pick in Collin Sexton) and finally look to have the talent this season to do some damage on the national stage. They’ve looked vulnerable at times without Robinson though and will be hoping for a strong finish to help lock them into the 4-6 range and keep them away from the top seeds until the second weekend.

What a win against the Blue Devils in Cassell. The Hokies only trailed for 20 seconds in the second half, and never by more than one point the entire game. This team fell off the radar a little after close losses to Louisville and Clemson following Robinson’s injury, but Buzz Williams and this team have done a tremendous job righting the ship. The 5/6-line can be treacherous in the first round, but this team is good enough to make some noise as a second-weekend team, even without Robinson. If he’s able to make it back too? This isn’t an “underdog” I’d want to run into in the Sweet 16 as a top seed.

#25 Louisville (current projected seed: 7.5)

Current resume:  18-11 (9-7, 7th in ACC)

vs Q1:  4-9 (1 remaining: @Virginia)

vs Q2:  4-2

vs Q3:  6-0 (1 remaining: Notre Dame)

vs Q4:  4-0

Update on your new favorite teams

Louisville’s early mid-major adversaries aren’t doing the Cardinals’ resume any favors. #47 Lipscomb (down from #37, which was already down from borderline Q1) and #83 Vermont (down from #66, on the friendlier side of the Q2/Q3 cutoff) both suffered damaging road losses to conference opponents outside the NET top 200. Vermont has a huge game this weekend against Stony Brook, which will likely determine the America East regular season title, while Lipscomb is tied atop the Atlantic Sun with only one game remaining.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) I can’t think of many more unenviable ways to end the regular season than playing Virginia twice in the last two weeks. After (somehow) holding on yesterday for an important win against Clemson, they will be looking to find a way to clean up their end-game execution in their upcoming trip to Syracuse. Depending how other leagues shake out, the Cards could sneak into borderline 3-seed consideration with a win against the Hoos and a nice run through the ACC tournament. Their schedule is also tough enough they could drop three or four, lose their ACCT opener, and find themselves staring down the barrel of a much tougher NCAA draw. If I had to guess, I like the Cards to land around a 5, maybe a 4 if they can steal one against UVA.

Well, it looks like the Cards decided to take their chances with the latter option above. They’ve dropped three straight (to wrap up a 2-7 month of February), and still have a trip to Charlottesville left on the schedule. With a great coach in Chris Mack and all the same talent that led them to a 7-1 start in the league, Louisville has all the pieces they need to right the ship in time for a tournament run or two. They’re just running out of time before they have to do it in single-elimination format.

#44 Syracuse (current projected seed: 9)

Current resume:  18-10 (9-6, 6th in ACC)

vs Q1:  3-6 (2 remaining: Virginia, @Clemson)

vs Q2:  5-2

vs Q3:  6-2 (1 remaining: @Wake Forest)

vs Q4:  4-0

Update on your new favorite teams

#72 Georgetown (previously #79) has, for the moment at least, bolstered the Orange’s resume significantly by boosting a Q3 win up to Q2. #76 Old Dominion (formerly #86) is on the verge of doing the same with Syracuse’s lone Q3 loss. While many scratched their head about that result back in mid-December, the Monarchs are now 23-6 and have already locked up the Conference USA regular season championship. On the flip side, #96 UConn has now lost seven of eight in the American, and are teetering on replacing ODU as a Q3 loss for the Orange if they slip past #100.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Hold on tight, kids. Syracuse sits at 8-4 in the league and are projected comfortably in the field of 68. After their 15 point loss to NC State Wednesday night, the Orange still have yet to beat a tournament-caliber team since their win at Duke a month ago. With five such foes among their final six, Syracuse will have more than enough chances to prove their worth to the selection committee. They will have to do it against the most demanding schedule any ACC team has remaining. Are they capable? Absolutely. However, they could just as easily find themselves sitting squarely on the bubble for the 500th year in a row, or maybe it’s only been five.

Barring a significant stumble down the stretch, the Orange appear to have secured their best seed for the big dance since they were a 3-seed in 2014 (their first year in the ACC). They can improve those chances dramatically by taking care of business in Winston Salem against Wake Forest this weekend.

#31 NC State (projected seed: 11.3)

Current resume:  20-8 (8-7, 8th in ACC)

vs Q1:  2-7 (1 remaining: @Florida State)

vs Q2:  5-0 (1 remaining: @Boston College)

vs Q3:  3-1 (1 remaining: Georgia Tech)

vs Q4:  10-0

Update on your new favorite teams

#23 Auburn got steamrolled last weekend by Kentucky, but won the other three of their last four and are holding steady in the top 30. While Clemson and Miami haven’t provided the resume lift we were hoping for two weeks ago, the aforementioned #50 Penn State, who the Wolfpack beat on a neutral court in December, have shot up the NET rankings and will provide a hugely valuable second Q1 win for as long as they can hang around in the top 50.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Last week was exactly the turnaround NC State needed. The loss at Duke was obviously less than Keatts and his squad were hoping for. But after blowing out Syracuse in Raleigh, if the Wolfpack can capitalize on the four winnable games left on their schedule, their only concerns heading into the selection show should be “who,” not “if.” Unless they can knock off Florida State and a couple teams in the ACC tourney, they likely won’t climb much higher than a 9 or 10 seed. But with the offensive firepower they possess, this team could be a scary matchup for whatever “favorite” they wind up paired against. Not to mention for the top-3 seed waiting in the second round.

Not much to add, as their situation remains largely the same. Upcoming road trips to Florida State and Boston College mean the Pack need to take care of business at home against Georgia Tech next Wednesday.

#42 Clemson (projected seed: 12/”First 4 Out”)

Current resume: 17-11 (7-8, 9th in ACC)

vs Q1:  1-8 (1 remaining  UNC)

vs Q2:  4-3 (2 remaining: @Notre Dame, Syracuse)

vs Q3:  6-0

vs Q4:  6-0

Update on your new favorite teams

#47 Lipscomb, #49 Nebraska, and #87 Miami are all unfortunately trending the wrong direction to make the jump to Q1 (Clemson holds a 1-2 record against the trio, with their lone win against the Bisons). #57 Creighton, though, is still within reach of the top 50 and Q1. However, I’m removing Creighton from this list for Tiger fans, as they also sit squarely in the bubble conversation and would much better help Clemson’s at-large chances by losing out than running the table in the Big East.

NCAA Outlook: (2 weeks ago) Wednesday night was not a great one for the Tiger faithful. A tough loss in Coral Gables would have been frustrating enough if it weren’t also paired with one of their only two Q1 wins (Lipscomb) losing as well and slipping down to Q2. That they’re still projected on the plus-side of most brackets is certainly a positive and their schedule will give them the opportunities they need to play their way to an at-large. Road trips to Pittsburgh and South Bend are probably the biggest potential traps standing between Clemson and their chance to secure a place in the field without needing to make some noise in the ACC tourney.

Clemson’s three game skid dropped them (for now) across the bubble and into many’s “First Four Out.” The Tigers will need to win at least two of their last three (or to make a deep ACC tourney run) to have a realistic shot at making the final field of 68. They will almost certainly need to show the committee more than their current 5-11 mark against Q1/2 opponents and lone Q1 win against a dinged-up Virginia Tech. This senior class is more than capable of getting the job done, but they have their work cut out for them.

 


 

Thanks once more to the following for their hard work and bracketology expertise:

Erik Haslam – haslametrics.com

Kevin Pauga – kpisports.net

Jerry Palm – cbssports.com

And everyone who contributes to The Bracket Project at bracketmatrix.com

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